In my session this morning, a sales and marketing group of over thirty people, I asked if anyone was interested in a career in sales or if they liked sales and marketing. Though many of them are not in sales, only one person said she would be interested in the activity or profession. Many of them seemed scared and those already in sales felt overwhelmed. In my view, this fear and dread is because many of them do not really understand how to sell or what the whole marketing space is all about.
When the organization developed a policy that everybody should attend a sales and marketing training, I saw a lot of merit in this direction because, everybody must market and sell and in fact are always selling whether they realize it or not. This is a forward thinking organization and is in the process of ensuring its whole organization is a sales machine from entry to senior levels.
In Nigeria today, organizations are not teaching employees the rudiments of marketing. People are employed and given targets and told to go out and sell, without understanding the organization’s strategy nor the simple difference between sales and marketing, which is very basic nor the art of selling. When you do not understand the difference between sales and marketing a basic knowledge how can you sell effectively?
Sales and marketing is a skill we will use in all aspects of our lives. As indicated above, whether you are consciously selling or not, you should realize that you are always selling. Whether you are pitching to a customer in the marketplace, internal customers or your board, you are selling to them. Many people are not aware of this and they end of selling themselves or their products short. We all need to understand that we are our organization’s brand ambassadors and sometimes we are an extension of the product or the product is an extension of us, especially those of us who provide intangible services.
We need to understand that selling is a process. Many of us, think the first thing that should be done, is to get the product and take it to the market without any research being done. We usually do not understand the features and the benefits of the product and what problem your service or product will sell. Many times, when you do not properly understand your product nor your customer because the basic requirement of upfront research is not done, you are dead on arrival.
In addition, many of us, also do not understand that the process can sometimes be long or short depending on the size of the prize. This is why you must always have a large pipeline and ensure that your selling is not based on transactional processes but based on enduring relationships. We must ensure that we find ways of constantly selling to a customer we sold to yesterday not developing new ones every day. The only way you can ensure that your sales interactions are not transactional is to sell to the needs of your customers not just because your buyer is buying from you because he or she feels sorry for you, which is the situation of many people in the profession in Nigeria today. They end up not having enduring or consistent results.
Selling is a skill set, with a methodology for ensuring success. The best way to ensure that you achieve success and can sell any product across sectors and organizations is to use the sales methodology to achieve your mandate. These include the principles in sales cycle, presentation, cross selling, upselling, skills, relationship building, networking, negotiation, understanding features and benefits, etc. Many of us are thrown into the market to sell but have no clue about what the above principles mean.
Furthermore, know your customer or potential customer. Get to know who you are meeting with, their role, what motivates them, how to approach them and what their needs are. Do what you can to learn in advance what they’re doing and what they might be looking for. That way you can come up with a strategy that makes sense. There are ways to do that and adjust your plan on the fly, but that comes with experience.
In Nigeria, we need to start imparting our employees with the right skills to help ensure they succeed. Many organizations do not think getting the right people or giving them access to the required knowledge to succeed is important. Marketing will continue being bastardized, if professionals who actually read sales and marketing are not employed or employees with university degrees or higher knowledge of marketing are not employed. If those without formal knowledge are employed, we need to ensure that the right skills are imparted in our employees otherwise, they will continue not being equipped to deliver value.
Let’s work on making sure we do not continue the bastardization of marketing in Nigeria. Get the right people on board or train them well. The profession is an interesting one and selling and marketing skills are essential for all employees for the benefit of the organization and the individual.